Vietnamese Female Director’s Feature Was Screened at TIFF

Nguyen Phuong Tra My (left) plays the youngest wife in the film The Third Wife. — Photo

Vietnamese Female Director’s Feature Was Screened at TIFF

A Vietnamese film about arranged marriage and forbidden love had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last Friday.

Người Vợ Ba (The Third Wife) is director Nguyen Phuong Anh’s first feature.

The 96-minute movie is set in the late 19th century in rural Vietnam when a 14-year old girl is given away in an arranged marriage and becomes the third wife to her older husband. She learns that she can gain status and security if she gives birth to a male child. This becomes a real possibility when she gets pregnant.

But her path is fraught with danger when she starts to develop an attraction for the second wife. As she observes the unfolding tragedy of forbidden love and its devastating consequences, she must make a choice, to either carry on in silence and safety or forge a way towards personal freedom.

“It is a coming-of-age story, a tale of love and self-discovery in a time when women were rarely given a voice,” Anh said in an interview with the website

“I grew up in Vietnam, a society that holds traditions, history, and community to be more valuable than personal independence. The heroine of this story embarks on a journey where her identity must assume many roles, that of a child, a woman, a wife, a lover, and eventually a mother.”

The film stars Tran Nu Yen Khe, Nhu Quynh, and Nguyen Phuong Tra My. Actress Yen Khe is known worldwide as she acts only in films made by her husband director Tran Anh Hung, who won a Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival in 1995.

For her first feature film, Anh won several awards, including the Non-Hong Kong Project Award and Post-Production Award at the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum and the Best Art Film Project at Autumn Meeting in Da Nang City.

“I’m so happy that The Third Wife will be having its world premiere at TIFF in the Discovery section. So grateful for my cast, crew, friends, family and everyone who supported us on this long journey. My heart is so full,” Anh said.

Anh was born in Vietnam and was educated in the UK and the US. She received a Master of Fine Arts in filmmaking at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She has made several short films including Man (2011), Heart of A Doll (2011), Grasshopper (2012) and Lupo (2016).

The Third Wife will compete for an official award at the Saint Sebastien International Film Festival at the end of this month and will be shown at Busan International Film Festival’s “A Window on Asian Cinema” in October.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here